Guatemala is the most populous country in Central America, home to nearly 16 million people. It is also the largest economy in Central America, and is undergoing a process of sustained expansion and development that makes it a focus of interest. Learn more about how to export from the US to Guatemala.

The country’s service sector accounts for over 60 percent of its GDP; industry and agriculture are also important here. Mining is vital and varied, with silver, gold, cobalt, zinc and nickel all featuring prominently. About 40 percent of Guatemala’s exports are from the agricultural sector, in which almost half of the country’s labor force is employed.

Guatemala imports a great deal of clothing from the US, along with commodities such as fruit, gold, coffee, sugar, and petroleum products. The US is Guatemala’s biggest foreign investor, and the country’s most important trading partner in terms of both imports and exports. The country represents a potentially huge market that is just beginning to explore its potential; it’s worth your while to learn the ins and outs of how to export from the US to Guatemala.

Full Container (FCL) or Groupage (LCL)

Your choices when shipping containers to Guatemala are either a full container load (FCL) or a shared container-groupage (a less-than-container load, or LCL). Your choice will be determined largely by your shipping volume.

A forty-foot shipping container accommodates 22 standard pallets, while a twenty-foot container can carry 10. We recommend you to book a full container load if the volume of your shipment is equal to half of its capacity, that is six or more standard pallets for a 20-foot container.

If you are concerned with any possible risk of damage to your goods that may be posed by contact with other exporters’ merchandise, a full container is also what you need.

If isolating your goods from those of others is not an issue, then a shared container, or groupage (LCL), is a good choice. This is an economical option, as you pay strictly for the container space you use. iContainers can provide you with information on rates and other important details.

Ocean Freight Routes to Guatemala

Four ports handle the majority of Guatemala’s exports and imports: Barrios, Santo Tomás de Castilla, Quetzal, and Guatemala City, which handles LCL exports exclusively. Consult the Guatemalan National Port Commission (Comisión Portuaria Nacional de Guatemala) site for more information.

  • Port of Barrios
    Located on Guatemala’s Atlantic coast, the Port of Barrios is the country’s oldest maritime port. Its terminal features a 944-foot-long wharf, divided into two well-secured zones, and the port itself is multipurpose, handling bulk, refrigerated, and general cargo.

  • Port of Santo Tomás de Castilla
    This state-run port has recently begun to open up to the private sector. Located on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast, it offers six berths along a wharf that is nearly 3,000 feet long. As well as offering warehouse space, the port handles RORO, bulk, refrigerated and general cargo, along with cruise ships. It handles over five million tons of commodities annually.

  • Port of Quetzal
    This port, only 60 miles from the capital, Guatemala City, is another state-run port that allows private enterprise to offer some services. The port of Quetzal handles much of the country?s Pacific-coast trade. Its principal wharf has four piers, and the port also boasts a breakwater wharf and a wharf for connections. Cruises dock here, and the port handles all sorts of cargo (RORO, refrigerated, solid bulk, general, etc.). It also features a terminal to handle carbons, and another to handle gas.

Air Freight Transportation to Guatemala

If you are working against a short deadline and your shipment is urgent, you should consider air freight. Some limitations are imposed on volume and weight with air freight; consult the iContainers calculator to determine whether this is the right option for you.